There was a time when Ping Hu cried because he thought he’d never get to go to school.
Even at 10 years old, he’d never sat inside a classroom.
But today, the 20-year-old will be among 425 graduating Kokomo High School students.
Shawn Kenneth Chaung is the class valedictorian. Ting Zhou Jr. is salutatorian.
Hu’s graduating with an academic honors diploma — an achievement that once seemed impossible.
Hu was born in Beijing, China.
He had a congenital condition that left his wrists bent and prevented him from doing a lot of activities.
His birth parents left him at an orphanage when he was a baby. The staff there told Hu his parents didn’t want him because of his “ugly, useless” hands, he recalled.
Hu was often told that he would never attend school because he couldn’t write. Sometimes, those words were enough to make him cry, he said.
Hu knew that while he may be physically weak, he was always mentally strong. But he didn’t know how to get others to realize that, he said.
“For as long as I can recall, I was always labeled as a child with disabilities, forcing me to stay with those who could barely speak a word,” Hu wrote in a college admissions essay. “It was tough to express my feelings and my desire to go to school.”
By the time he was 7, the orphanage finally moved him in with all of the “normal” kids who were allowed to go to school, he said.
Hu said the new staff members noticed that he was “quite a brilliant child” who simply could not write as fast as the others. They petitioned the school to allow him to attend.
“The school did not like the sound of a student with a condition that could slow down the educational process and soon rejected the request,” he wrote.